Here I am, almost at the semester. My students at one college turned in papers on Wednesday that were, for the most part, pretty awful. It has taken me 45 minutes to plow through 6 of them, there are so many mistakes.
Here’s my dilemma: do I post an announcement, inviting the students to re-write their papers, knowing that the ones who need to the most are the least likely to do it, or do I hold my breath and go ahead and grade these monstrosities, knowing that this assignment is worth 20% of their final grade?
I could list the students who don’t have to do the re-write on our class page or just invite everyone to do it. I could give them till Monday at 1 pm to place their newly re-written papers in my mailbox on campus. I could even list all the things that were wrong with the current batch of papers. In fact, here is the list for your enjoyment:
One student wrote a plot summary for his favorite movie, and then added in three words from our textbook ….to the entire paper (four pages long). He put a Works Cited page at the end of the document, but did not cite anything (except those three words, scattered about the paper, once each). Those words were never explained or analyzed, just plopped in.
I can hear his argument now, having been lambasted by him on the last writing assignment: “Boy, you sure are dumb if you don’t know the meaning of those three words. I shouldn’t have to explain the concepts to you.” To me, that is tantamount to saying, “Here is my exam. I only put my name on it but I deserve an A+ because you should know what all these terms mean. I shouldn’t have to tell you.” Right on, buddy.
Several students wrote sentence fragments. At this college, three fragments in a single essay means an automatic F on the assignment. Doesn’t anyone proofread anything? Several students wrote sentences that left out verbs, contained commas every few words, misused semi-colons like they were on a fire sale, and offered neither an introduction or a conclusion to their essay. One individual loved the words “as” and “such,” sprinkling them liberally in every paragraph. Several students wrote sentences that were about 60 words long and went in numerous directions (these are known as run-on sentences).
So, what do you think I should do? Should I offer the re-write or not? I value your opinion.